Sharing Poetry 2 - Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695) - The Lion and The Rat - Tribute to Laura G. and... Aesopus

This is the voice of my son, 8 years old very soon !

L e Lion et le Rat

Il faut, autant qu'on peut, obliger tout le monde :
On a souvent besoin d'un plus petit que soi.
De cette vérité deux Fables feront foi,
Tant la chose en preuves abonde.

Entre les pattes d'un Lion
Un Rat sortit de terre assez à l'étourdie.
Le Roi des animaux, en cette occasion,
Montra ce qu'il était, et lui donna la vie.
Ce bienfait ne fut pas perdu.
Quelqu'un aurait-il jamais cru
Qu'un Lion d'un Rat eût affaire ?
Cependant il advint qu'au sortir des forêts
Ce Lion fut pris dans des rets,
Dont ses rugissements ne le purent défaire.
Sire Rat accourut, et fit tant par ses dents
Qu'une maille rongée emporta tout l'ouvrage.

Patience et longueur de temps
Font plus que force ni que rage.

The Lion and the Rat
To show to all your kindness, it behoves:
There's none so small but you his aid may need.
I quote two fables for this weighty creed,
Which either of them fully proves.

From underneath the sward
A rat, quite off his guard,
Popped out between a lion's paws.
The beast of royal bearing
Showed what a lion was
The creature's life by sparing—
A kindness well repaid;
For, little as you would have thought
His majesty would ever need his aid,
It proved full soon
A precious boon.
Forth issuing from his forest glen,
T" explore the haunts of men,
In lion net his majesty was caught,
From which his strength and rage
Served not to disengage.
The rat ran up, with grateful glee,
Gnawed off a rope, and set him free.

By time and toil we sever
What strength and rage could never.

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Comment by Ellen Pham on February 25, 2008 at 1:37am
Oh, so true to life sometimes, Laura! The sequel made me laugh with recognition...
Comment by Laura Gibbs on February 25, 2008 at 1:12am
HOW DELIGHTFUL!!! Thank you so much for sharing this, Vincent! This is one of those great stories for kids (there are not so many Aesop's fables that are based on a truly positive exemplum like this).

There is a kind of SEQUEL to this story by Abstemius, a 15th-century writer and sharp social critic - you can see an illustration here (with the poor little mouse being squashed!)

A lion had been caught in a net. When he saw that he was thus entrapped, such that he could not free himself with all his strength, he asked a mouse to gnaw through the net and set him free, promising that he would not be unmindful of such a great favor. When the mouse readily did this thing, he asked the lion to let him marry the lion's daughter. The lion did not refuse to do this welcome deed for his benefactor. But when the new bride came to her husband, she did not see him and accidentally stepped on him with her paw and squashed him.
Leo, laqueo captus, cum ita se irretitum videret ut nullis viribus sese explicare potuit, Murem rogavit, ut, abroso laqueo, eum liberaret, promittens tanti beneficii se non futurum immemorem. Quod cum Mus prompte fecisset, Leonem rogavit ut filiam eius sibi traderet in uxorem. Nec abnuit Leo ut benefactori suo rem gratam faceret. Nova autem nupta, ad virum veniens, cum eum non videret, casu illum pede pressit et contrivit.

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